The map: For your amusement
Gasp! At an avocado. Thrill! To a dog. Shriek! At the Collective Farm Girl monument. Nowadays, says Jane Delmer, there is a theme park for everyone
Saturday 17 April 1999
Santa's Village and Sportsland, Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada. Concerned that Santa may be overworking himself in Lapland, the kindly citizens of Bracebridge decided to build him a summer holiday home in 1955. Thanks to them you can now enjoy seasonal spirit all year round at this Christmas-in-the-summertime theme park. There are no real reindeer (as they prefer a cooler climate), but there are some imported fallow deer instead. Open summer season only.
Dollywood, Smoky Mountain, US. Tennessee's number-one tourist attraction dedicated to the Barbara Windsor of country music. Visit the Dolly Parton museum exhibiting 2,000 Dolly-related items or watch Paradise Road, a musical telling the story of the buxom one's journey from down-home gal to international superstardom. If you're hungry, why not treat yourself to some fresh pork rinds fried before indulging in a spot of bluegrass pick'n and sing'n.
Moomin World, Nantaali, Finland. Meet Snork maiden, Moomintroll and all the other characters from Tove Jansson's books brought to life on this tiny Baltic Island. Explore Moominpapa's ship, but don't expect roller coasters or Burger King, as you'll be disappointed. There is no technology or fast food here, just actors who speak only Moomin and hug everyone in sight. Open daily from 6 June to 16 August. Very popular with small children and the Japanese.
Parc Walibi Schtroumpf, Lorraine, France. "To transform dreams into reality", a theme park close to the Belgian border has been dedicated entirely to the Smurfs, those blue gnomes still inexplicably popular on the Continent. Frighteningly, their records have outsold The Beatles and Pink Floyd combined in some countries. Come and spend your Euroschtroumpfs (Smurf money) at the park with the longest wooden roller coaster in Europe. Open from 11 April until 25 October.
Huis ten Bosch, Nagasaki, Japan. A full-sized re-creation of a Dutch city featuring replicas of authentic historical buildings, Huis ten Bosch is, they say, "more nice than your imaginations". Meander down the canals in copies of 17th-century Dutch boats or enjoy the musical show (Bon Voyage de Liefde) staged on an imitation of the eponymous Dutch ship found stranded on the Japanese coast in 1600. Unfortunately you can't go on board.
Dog's Town, Tokyo, Japan. "A place where humans and dogs can link their hearts", this homage to the domestic pooch is incredibly popular with the locals, many of whom could not swing a chihuahua in their tiny city apartments. The Small Dogs Shopping Centre features a dog in every shop window which are let out of their glass cases to perform tricks for the cooing punters. For around pounds 5, you too can fawn over 40 different breeds of hound in this unique doggy theme park.
Exhibition of Economic Achievements (known as VDNKh), Moscow, Russia. Described as a Stalinesque Disneyland, visitors can experience the Soviet state vision on a grandiose scale: 80 pavilions featuring everything from grain to atomic energy stretch over the 578 acres of this Communist fantasy world. See the colossal Worker and Collective Farm Girl monument or even the model electricity power stations of the future. Open seven days a week, entry is free on weekends and holidays.
Splendid China, Shenzhen Bay, China. Shenzhen boasts not one, but three theme parks. Splendid China vaunts all of China's most famous landmarks in miniature - a day here and you won't need to visit the rest of the country. Window of the World does the same for places of interest around the globe - marvel at a tiny Eiffel Tower and Sydney Opera House. And finally there's the China Folk Culture Village, 24 life-size "villages", each dedicated to one of the country's many ethnic minorities.
Tropical Fruit World, Tweed Valley, New South Wales, Australia. Formerly Avocadoland where you could tour avocado orchards, eat avocado ice cream and drink avocado milkshakes, this park has expanded in the past two years to cover all forms of rare and tropical fruit in Australia. Enjoy the views from the rim of the largest volcano in the southern hemisphere or pop across to the World of Horticulture in Coffs Harbour, a theme park dedicated, apparently, to bananas.
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